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Neutral Umpires

Ponting calls for cricket to discard neutral umpires system

Ricky Ponting believes it is time to move away from the rule of neutral umpires officiating cricket matches after a spate of incorrect decisions marred the opening Ashes Test between England and Australia.

The two on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Joel Wilson came under heavy scrutiny for witnessing several of their decisions being overturned on review.

The first day of the Edgbaston Test saw a total of six wrong decisions being made by Dar and Wilson as the pattern of low standards of umpiring continued on Friday.

Ponting, who is a member of Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) Cricket Committee, promised to raise this issue in the next meeting and introduce the idea of scrapping the system of neutral umpires in international cricket.

"It's already been spoken about a lot among the players. If it's not brought up (at that next MCC meeting), I'll make sure it's added to the agenda," he said to Cricket Australia's website.

"I would like to think the game has come far enough now for the game to not have neutral umpires.

"People might say that with all the technology we've got now, it doesn't matter that much. But it's not a good spectacle when pretty obviously wrong decisions are made," Ponting added.

"There's been a lot of negativity about the DRS (Decision Review System) over the years, but we're pretty lucky that we had it (at Edgbaston)."

'Best umpires end up missing the big tournaments'

The International Cricket Council made the use of neutral umpires compulsory in 2002, shifting the focus on installing them instead of the best umpires in world cricket.

Ponting expressed his surprise at seeing someone of the caliber of England's Richard Kettleborough missing out on umpiring in the Ashes series just because of his nationality.

"Surely Richard Kettleborough and the like would want to be umpiring the best series. The best umpires can end up missing out on all the big tournaments," he said.

"It could force umpires into retirement a bit early as well when someone like (former Australian umpire) Simon Taufel is spending most of his life (overseas), which is a bit harder than spending your time in Australia."

Ponting's former Australia teammate Shane Warne shared similar views and termed the quality of umpiring in the ongoing Test "horrific".

"England are bowling very well. The umpiring has been horrific from ball 1 & so has the reviews process of the right ones from Australia," he wrote on Twitter.

The MCC's influential Cricket Committee is viewed as the custodian of the laws of the game and they meet twice a year to debate the pertinent issues in the game.